British student Richard O'Dwyer

British student faces US extradition in copyright case

A British student will find out whether he will be extradited for breaching U.S. copyright law through his website.

Richard O'Dwyer's website TV Shack allowed users to access films and TV programmes illegally by providing links to other websites where users could access content, but it did not host any of the content itself.

The 23-year-old, who says he started the project to improve his computer programming skills and help him get a work placement, did not charge users but sold $230,000 worth of advertising on the site, according to the U.S. authorities.

"I was forced to set up advertising because of the massive server fees," O'Dwyer said ahead of the ruling in London.

"When you've got a website with over 300,000 people a month visiting, there's a need for infrastructure to support that. There's no other way to do it, unless you had the money yourself," he said.

The United States has cracked down far harder than Britain on illegal file-sharing, which has damaged the film, television and music industries.

O'Dwyer's lawyer Ben Cooper argues that the student's activities would not be criminal in Britain, and that he should be tried at home if anywhere.

"There have been lots of very similar cases here which simply haven't stood up," Cooper, an extradition lawyer with Doughty Street Chambers, said.

"My argument is that it wouldn't be a criminal case here. At most, it would be a civil matter," he said. 

He described O'Dwyer as a "guinea pig" as no British citizen had been extradited to the United States for a copyright offence before.

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